Born and raised in North Battleford, Vic Stynsky has positively influenced this community for 16 years as an educator. Whether in the hockey arena, on the football field, the badminton or volleyball court, on the golf course or in the classroom, Stynsky has dedicated and committed his time to molding his students into mature young adults.
He has excelled as the athletic director at John Paul II Collegiate and recently won the most prestigious award a physical education teacher in Saskatchewan can be honoured with — the Paul Renwick Award. Stynsky earned this award for the numerous hours and days he has put into the school’s coaching program, at the local and provincial level.
This all didn’t happen overnight. Stynsky has always been someone whose life revolved around physical activity and family and he says he genuinely loves what he does now. Growing up, it was the same, and his passion for sports only grew over the years.
“I always wanted to play hockey and succeed in that,” Stynsky said. “I also was big into motocross racing when I was younger. When I hit 16, I had to make a decision whether I should continue on with motocross racing or go the hockey route and I went the hockey route.”
It was a good decision for him, as he was able to play two seasons with the Battlefords North Stars. Stynsky began his career with the black and white when he was 17 years old, and enjoys talking about the strong team he was a part of. Although they weren’t able to attain the coveted championship, he does recall the North Stars being one of the top three teams in the mid 1980s, along with the Estevan Bruins and the Weyburn Red Wings.
The Paul Renwick Award winner reminisced on his time suiting up for the North Stars, remembering the overflow of support from the community and the fans who flocked to the Civic Centre to cheer on their team. He also remembered the coaches and players who taught him new lessons, and the long road trips that were always an incredible experience.
“Norm [Johnson] was a different coach, definitely a motivator,” Stynsky said. “I think probably the biggest thing with the North Stars was when I was 17 and being able to play with some local kids — Scott Koberinski, Grant Paranica and Rob Cockburn. They were talented players and older guys that really helped me along. We were really successful.”
Following his first year with the club, Stynsky accepted a scholarship to play at Lake Superior State University of the CCHA. The now 49 year old played 20 games with the organization, tallying three goals and two assists over his career.
Stynsky described his time in the CCHA as an incredible learning experience. He played just one season with Lake Superior before going back to the North Stars to play another year, where he relished playing under coach Kelly McCrimmon. McCrimmon is now the long-time coach and owner of the Brandon Wheat Kings and has turned down offers from the NHL to stay in Brandon. He has been behind the bench of the Wheat Kings from 1988 to the present.
“I learned a lot from Kelly about hockey and about life.” Stynsky said. “From there, I decided to go to university and went to the University of Regina to get my education degree.”
After his sports career, teaching is something Stynsky always wanted to do, and it ran in the family. His father was a teacher before him and enjoyed everything about the profession, which rubbed off and had a big impact on him. For more than 24 years Stynsky has been an educator, 15 of those years have been spent teaching alongside his wife, Roxanne Stynsky, who is the school’s chaplain and also a physical education teacher.
Upon receiving the Paul Renwick award, Stynsky remembers his initial thoughts and credits much of his success to the people who are closest to him.
“One of the first things I thought of was how thankful I was to be able to have this many years in teaching … My family came to mind right away, my parents, my wife has been very supportive, my children, it was just kind of a rush of emotion … It’s just like being on a team, you have to have a lot of people around you supporting you and helping you out along the way, and I’ve had that.”
His children, Cassidy, Jacob and Caybre Stynsky, are all into sports as well, and you can guess who they get it from.
“They’ve grown up loving and playing sports and it’s been great to be able to coach them and watch them play and see them grow and succeed.”
The oldest, Cassidy, is in university and used to be an avid hockey player. Jacob has his sights on a post secondary football career. He recently was named top offensive player on the JPII team and co-winner of the MVP award. Jacob was also invited to a summer camp in North Dakota to showcase his abilities for scouts from across North America. The youngest, Caybre, plays club volleyball.
Stynsky takes pride in his coaching, whether it’s his family or his students, and says he wants to build his players into better people as well as developing their game.
“As a coach, especially in a high school, number one we’re building them into citizens. We’re developing them into being good people,” Stynsky says. “That’s the big thing that I see, they develop as athletes but they develop as caring individuals.”
With Stynsky having taught in the Battlefords for 16 years, one can imagine how many students have come and gone through his classroom. One of the concepts Stynsky loves most is seeing the kids he taught and coached immerse themselves in the community before coming back to the school to have a conversation with him. He says a big part of the education system is giving that “little extra,” and he enjoys how rewarding it is to play a role in the development of an athlete or a student.
When it comes to professional sports, Stynsky is, of course, a big hockey fan and adores his Montreal Canadiens. For baseball, “you’re not going to like who I cheer for,” Stynsky says as he opens up about being a New York Yankees fan and growing up in a time when the state of the franchise was dynamic.
“I’m kind of a traditional guy. Yankees, Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh Steelers,” Stynsky says with a smile on his face.
But, as the years go by, the long-time teacher stays versatile and finds new love for different types of pasttimes.
“I’m a sports addict. The last few years I’ve actually got into Nascar and I’ve gone to Talladega and to Las Vegas for a couple of races.”
The life of Vic Stynsky is primarily made up of teaching and coaching, but that’s not all he likes to do. When he does get some free time, he says he and Roxanne work in their yard. He also enjoys golfing, fishing and hunting. One of his main hobbies, he says, is travelling. Throughout his life, he has been to Florida, Hawaii and California, while taking trips with the JPII Mission team to Costa Rica, Peru and, next year, Ecuador. Stynsky also runs the travel club at his school. Members have flown to Greece and will be headed to Japan in April.
There’s no doubting that Stynsky is an incredible teacher, coach, educator and father. The Paul Renwick plaque is just one tangible reward he has received for all of the intangible elements that go on inside the classroom, or in the gym.